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For more than 150 years, The New York Times has been in the forefront of science news reporting. These 125 articles from its archives are the very best, covering more than a century of scientific breakthroughs, setbacks, and mysteries. The varied topics range from chemistry to the cosmos, biology to ecology, genetics to artificial intelligence, all curated by the former editor of Science Times, David Corcoran. Big, informative, and wide-ranging, this journey through the scientific stories of our times is a must-have for all science enthusiasts.
Why is glass transparent? Why do cats purr? Why do men have nipples? These are but a handful of the thousands of questions that over the years have been asked and answered in The New York Times "Science Q&A" column. At last, the best and most interesting questions-and their replies-have been collected in a book for general readers. From wild animals to outdoor vegetation, from the human body to the heavens above, The New York Times Book of Science Questions and Answers takes readers on a thoroughly entertaining and informative journey through the world we live in. Like David Feldman's bestselling books Do Penguins Have Knees? and Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?, this is science at its fun-filled best. Featuring answers from a wide variety of leaders across the country in scientific research and education, and illustrated by the delightful drawings of Victoria Roberts, The Times Q&A column is one of the best read features in the Science Times, which is one of the most popular sections of the newspaper. With a daily circulation of 1.2 million people, The New York Times is a leader in conveying scientific information to the general public. This fact-filled handbook for the scientifically curious should prove invaluable as a family reference book, as a classroom resource, as an entertaining subway diversion, and even as a supplement to public libraries' Frequently Asked Questions lists. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Bringing science from the stratified realm of jargon and mystifying concepts, this reference takes an easy-to-understand approach to explaining a broad range of scientific matters, including the physics of a knuckleball, the effect of cows' belching on the ozone, and more. Reprint.
What would kill you if you fell into a black hole? Once people finally get to Mars, how will they get back? What makes the holes in Swiss cheese? Are there any carnivorous plants that are harmful to humans? Are there really caterpillars that scream to protect themselves? How do birds have sexual intercourse? Why don’t woodpeckers damage their brains? What is the function of ear wax? Why don’t you sneeze when you’re asleep? Do germs have germs? What is considered evidence for extra-terrestial intelligence? Every week, C. Claiborne Ray answers questions like these from the readers of the New York Times Science section who, as this delightful second volume demonstrates, never seem to run out of things to ask about. Here, Ray gives us 225 of the most interesting answers she has gleaned from scientists in every discipline, satisfying our desire to understand some of the strangest, most curious mysteries of the natural world. Victoria Roberts’s charmingly wacky drawings add to the fun. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A personal story about not only facing but conquering fears. In 2015, Eva Holland was forced to confront her greatest fear when her mother had a stroke and suddenly passed away. After the shock and grief subsided, Holland began to examine the extent to which her many fears had limited her, and wondered whether or not it was possible to move past them. This sent Holland on a deep dive into the science of fear, digging into an array of universal and personal questions: Why do we feel fear? Where do phobias come from and how are they related to anxiety disorders and trauma? Can you really smell fear? (Yes.) What would it be like to feel no fear? Is there a cure for fear? Or, put differently, is there a better way to feel afraid? On her journey, Holland meets with scientists who are working to eliminate phobias with a single pill, she explores the lives of the few individuals who suffer from a rare disease that prevents them from ever feeling fear, and she immerses herself in her own fears including hurling herself out of a plane for her first skydive (and in the process, learns that there are right and wrong ways to face your fears). Fear is a universal human experience, and Nerve answers these questions in a refreshingly accessible way, offering readers an often personal, sometimes funny, and always rigorously researched journey through the science of facing our fears.
“The Knowledge Machine is the most stunningly illuminating book of the last several decades regarding the all-important scientific enterprise.” —Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex A paradigm-shifting work, The Knowledge Machine revolutionizes our understanding of the origins and structure of science. • Why is science so powerful? • Why did it take so long—two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics—for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe? In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument. Like such classic works as Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Knowledge Machine grapples with the meaning and origins of science, using a plethora of vivid historical examples to demonstrate that scientists willfully ignore religion, theoretical beauty, and even philosophy to embrace a constricted code of argument whose very narrowness channels unprecedented energy into empirical observation and experimentation. Strevens calls this scientific code the iron rule of explanation, and reveals the way in which the rule, precisely because it is unreasonably close-minded, overcomes individual prejudices to lead humanity inexorably toward the secrets of nature. “With a mixture of philosophical and historical argument, and written in an engrossing style” (Alan Ryan), The Knowledge Machine provides captivating portraits of some of the greatest luminaries in science’s history, including Isaac Newton, the chief architect of modern science and its foundational theories of motion and gravitation; William Whewell, perhaps the greatest philosopher-scientist of the early nineteenth century; and Murray Gell-Mann, discoverer of the quark. Today, Strevens argues, in the face of threats from a changing climate and global pandemics, the idiosyncratic but highly effective scientific knowledge machine must be protected from politicians, commercial interests, and even scientists themselves who seek to open it up, to make it less narrow and more rational—and thus to undermine its devotedly empirical search for truth. Rich with illuminating and often delightfully quirky illustrations, The Knowledge Machine, written in a winningly accessible style that belies the import of its revisionist and groundbreaking concepts, radically reframes much of what we thought we knew about the origins of the modern world.
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE • An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse in this stunning debut, a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging. “Gorgeous writing, mind-bending world-building, razor-sharp social commentary, and a main character who demands your attention—and your allegiance.”—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total. On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security. But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world but the entire multiverse. “Clever characters, surprise twists, plenty of action, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.”—Library Journal (starred review)
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER From a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovering addict, a rare page-turning work of science that draws on personal insights to reveal how drugs work, the dangerous hold they can take on the brain, and the surprising way to combat today's epidemic of addiction. Judith Grisel was a daily drug user and college dropout when she began to consider that her addiction might have a cure, one that she herself could perhaps discover by studying the brain. Now, after twenty-five years as a neuroscientist, she shares what she and other scientists have learned about addiction, enriched by captivating glimpses of her personal journey. In Never Enough, Grisel reveals the unfortunate bottom line of all regular drug use: there is no such thing as a free lunch. All drugs act on the brain in a way that diminishes their enjoyable effects and creates unpleasant ones with repeated use. Yet they have their appeal, and Grisel draws on anecdotes both comic and tragic from her own days of using as she limns the science behind the love of various drugs, from marijuana to alcohol, opiates to psychedelics, speed to spice. With more than one in five people over the age of fourteen addicted, drug abuse has been called the most formidable health problem worldwide, and Grisel delves with compassion into the science of this scourge. She points to what is different about the brains of addicts even before they first pick up a drink or drug, highlights the changes that take place in the brain and behavior as a result of chronic using, and shares the surprising hidden gifts of personality that addiction can expose. She describes what drove her to addiction, what helped her recover, and her belief that a “cure” for addiction will not be found in our individual brains but in the way we interact with our communities. Set apart by its color, candor, and bell-clear writing, Never Enough is a revelatory look at the roles drugs play in all of our lives and offers crucial new insight into how we can solve the epidemic of abuse.
A Turing Award-winning computer scientist and statistician shows how understanding causality has revolutionized science and will revolutionize artificial intelligence "Correlation is not causation." This mantra, chanted by scientists for more than a century, has led to a virtual prohibition on causal talk. Today, that taboo is dead. The causal revolution, instigated by Judea Pearl and his colleagues, has cut through a century of confusion and established causality -- the study of cause and effect -- on a firm scientific basis. His work explains how we can know easy things, like whether it was rain or a sprinkler that made a sidewalk wet; and how to answer hard questions, like whether a drug cured an illness. Pearl's work enables us to know not just whether one thing causes another: it lets us explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been. It shows us the essence of human thought and key to artificial intelligence. Anyone who wants to understand either needs The Book of Why.